I dragged my attention away from the cowboy, turning to the sound of my name. Climbing out of the passenger side of the truck was a woman. A blond woman. A beautiful blond woman.
Reality slapped me in the face. Of course a guy that hot wasn’t single. They probably had six kids at home. What twilight zone did I think I was in?
At least that would make things easier. For a moment there I’d had trouble breathing.
“Yes,” I said, trying not to let my shoulders slump as my heart rate returned to normal. “I’m Cassie Bishop.”
“I’m Genevieve Haywood, marketing manager here a Black Willow Ranch.” She lifted a hand to shield her eyes from the bright sun. “I’m the one who arranged this whole thing. I’ve been exchanging emails with your boss for months.”
Her voice had a gentle lilt that reminded me a bit of Bethany’s southern drawl. As she rounded the front of the battered truck, I tried not to envy her petite curves and infectious smile. Wearing skinny jeans tucked into knee-high boots and a three-quarter sleeve denim jacket layered over a maroon tank, she would fit in on a Hollywood movie set as easily as she seemed to belong in the wilds of Texas.
In my black jeans, black tee, black cardigan, and black boots I must have looked like a walking poster for New York City style. I didn’t fit in anywhere else.
Which only made what I was about to do even more ridiculous.
“Mr. Gorman told me all about you,” she continued.
I was sure he hadn’t told her everything.
She hooked her arm around the cowboy’s bicep.
“And this is Ty,” she said, beaming with pride as she leaned playfully into his side. “Your future TV star—“
Was he blushing under that Yankees cap?
“—and my big brother.”
“What?” I snapped before I could stop myself.
I cut him a sharp glare and he pretended not to notice.
His little sister. That explained the adoring look and—now that I thought about it—the family resemblance. I won’t lie—my heart rate sped right back up.
And my long-neglected girly side was especially glad I’d taken those precious seconds to swipe some color onto my face.
“Nice to meet you Genevieve,” I said, ignoring my suddenly out-of-control hormones. I even managed to look right into the cowboy’s bright blue eyes as I nodded at him. “Ty. I’m the field producer for Try It On.”
I couldn’t seem to tear my gaze away from those baby blues. It didn’t help that he stepped forward and held out his hand.
“A pleasure,” he said, his voice deep and smooth. “I look forward to working with you, Cassie.”
My knees might have buckled a little as he said my name.
Get a grip! Seriously, this job was too important to get all melty inside over the super-hot star of the show. I should have been focusing on how great he would look on camera. Our target demographic—female viewers ages twenty-five to forty-five—were going to go nuts over his full lips and sculpted features. Heck, I was smack dab in the middle of that demographic and I could barely think straight. He would make the show an instant hit.
As long as I didn’t screw it up first.
I boldly took his offered hand.
It was just as rough and warm and hard-working as I’d thought. The heat from his touch shot straight down my spine. All the way to my red-polished toes. (Pedicures were pretty much my only concession to conventional girliness.)
I yanked my hand away before the sensation completely dissolved my judgment.
“And this is Eddie—“ I stammered, pointing at the big guy. “Cameraman.”
“Just pretend I’m not here,” he grumbled.
I shot him a sarcastic grin. “I try and I try.”
“Don’t piss off the guy with the camera.” He tapped at the device he kept practically glued to his shoulder. “I can make ten on-air pounds look like twenty.”
Eddie might be a grouch, but he was great at his job and I actually understood his humor. We were a good team. When Gorman asked who I wanted filming at my side, Eddie was my first choice. Without hesitation.
“Well it sure is a pleasure to have y’all here at the ranch,” Genevieve said, ignoring—or oblivious to—our exchange. “Are we just waiting for the, um… cowgirl in training?”
My spine stiffened.
“If we are, we’ll be waiting a long time,” I muttered.
“I beg your pardon?” Genevieve asked with puzzled smile.
“Actually, no.” This was ridiculous. The fear of losing my career must have been affecting the decision-making parts of my brain. Normal, rational Cassie could never do something so insane. I shook my head, regretting my words even as I said them. “There’s been a change of plans.”
I sensed Eddie turn the camera on me. Clever bastard knew what I was going to do.
I forced a tight smile.
“I will be playing the part of cowgirl wannabe.”
Ty’s eyebrows lifted beneath his Yankees brim.
Genevieve clapped her hands together and bounded toward me. “That’s wonderful!”
I might have jerked away as she wrapped her arms around me, engulfing me in a tight hug, but she didn’t seem to notice. My pleading look in Eddie’s direction went unnoticed—or ignored.
“This is going to be so much fun,” she squealed in my ear.
“Come on, Cassie Bishop,” Ty said. “Let’s go meet your horse.”
“Horse?” I choked.
What had I done?
And another song recommendation from Andy. This time it's Cowboy Take Me Away by the Dixie Chicks. Oh yes please...
Tune in tomorrow for the next installment.